Perley-Robertson: Helping Businesses Grow Through Immigration
WHEN IMMIGRANTS COME to the National Capital Region (NCR) and want to use their knowledge and expertise to establish another important small business, they seek out good legal advice.
Warren Creates, the 59-year old head of the Immigration Law Group at Perley- Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP in Ottawa, is one of the best.
Much of Creates’ effort centres on obtaining work permits for clients who, in some instances, are being transferred to a Canadian branch, subsidiary or affiliate of a company in their native country.
“We do the paperwork to make sure it operates smoothly,” says Creates.
Many immigrants that Creates has assisted have established successful small businesses, including restaurants, corner stores, gas stations, tech companies, and other endeavours in the NCR and elsewhere across Canada.
Creates also represents dozens of national sporting organizations, as well as provincial bodies, in their recruitment of the top sporting coaches in the world. There are, he notes, significant opportunities for business growth in the NCR, including relatively modest housing and commercial rents, compared to larger Canadian cities. Yet the NCR is big enough to provide a critical mass for a new small or medium-sized enterprise to establish a market or network relatively quickly.
Foreign-born entrepreneurs face additional obstacles primarily because of a lack of familiarity with the business landscape and educational training in Canada compared to a person who was born here. That requires professional support to guide them through the process of dealing with legal issues such as labour laws, licensing, and leasing, says Creates.
“One of the fabulous benefits of being in a firm like Perley-Robertson is that it’s a full-service law firm. Our firm has corporate lawyers, tax lawyers, employment lawyers, family law lawyers, intellectual property lawyers, leasing lawyers, among others. We do a lot of collaboration to make sure clients have access to the expertise that’s here,” he stresses.
Creates helped Warren Sutherland, who is originally from Kingston, Jamaica, immigrated to Canada in 2004 after Sutherland had studied and worked in the United States for about ten years.
Sutherland, a local restaurant owner, praises Creates’ style, noting that he was very personable, which helped ease the stress associated with coming to a new country. Moreover, Creates provided assurances that he had all of the legal issues covered to ensure a successful immigration process could be completed.
Creates “was very knowledgeable. He knows every rule and how to go about the process. And he was very thorough. Every single ‘I’ was dotted and every ‘T’ was crossed in my situation. He laid out exactly how it was going to be,” says Sutherland.
Creates also knows first-hand the political oppression, crushing poverty, and other atrocities that refugees to Canada are escaping from in their countries of birth. He has traveled and worked in 50 countries around the globe, including war-torn hotspots as conflict raged.
“When you do this work, it’s wonderful to deploy those skills in an advocacy way to preserve and protect life,” says Creates, who is proud of having assisted thousands of refugees and other immigrants enter Canada. “I really enjoy having that opportunity in my business career,” he adds.
As a result of his efforts, Creates has earned recognition from the Law Society of Ontario as a Certified Specialist in Immigration Law and Citizenship Law (Immigration + Refugee Protection).
For example, in addition to having traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan to handle immigration and asylum cases directly with his clients, Creates has traveled to Ethiopia and Eritrea extensively since 2007. “I’ve helped individuals and groups assert their refugee claims against Eritrea, and be heard by both the United Nations and Canada in their depositions and their evidence so that Canada resettled them,” he says.
Creates began his career as a Government of Canada immigration lawyer in 1986. “It was a great training ground. Because of that, I’ve got a really good appreciation for how the government works, and approaches immigration cases,” he says.
Creates also worked in Malaysia and South Korea between 1988 and 1993, representing nationals of several countries who were seeking to immigrate to Canada. “I dealt with immigration officers in our Canadian embassies throughout Asia. They trained me, and told me about the kinds of cases, evidence and documentation that would meet the quality and standards they would approve,” Creates recalls.
For example, he notes, a prospective immigrant’s impact on the labour force is a prime consideration. Federal and provincial governments often require specifics that include a certain level of higher education, and professional or industry related skills or experience. They also typically seek somebody young enough to be able to contribute to the Canadian economy for a period of time. Net worth is not necessarily a key factor in the selection process, as some applicants mistakenly assume.
“The rules and the regulations in each of the programs have to be understood. They’re sort of like tools in my toolbox, and I need to apply those to every individual case,” says Creates.
Each of those individuals admitted to Canada will ultimately enrich the diverse Canadian culture. In many instances, a new small business started by an immigrant will also emerge to expand the economy of the NCR and other cities, and create employment opportunities.